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Therese Rowley, Ph.D.

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Embassy Attacks Spotlight Social Responsibility

Posted: 09/17/2012 12:20 pm

When the American Embassy attacks in Benghazi spread to many other places in the world because of a YouTube video, I was heartbroken. Now, it doesn't even take a physical threat to stir global violence. All it takes are words and pictures. Simon Mainwaring, speaker at the Conscious Business Network and author of We First: How Brands and Consumers use Social Media to Build a Better World, offers practical steps platform owners can take when content posted is hateful or attack-driven.

As Eleanor Roosevelt said, "With great freedom comes great responsibility." And with social media, we have universal freedom to employ a method that allows us to inspire, inform, gather... or spout unprocessed feelings and thinking onto an entire global community.

We are no longer only part of our family, neighborhood and local political ward. Social media links us to a worldwide family to which we must be responsible, or suffer an increasingly war-filled, global consequence. We are sorely in need of commonly-accepted and practiced intuitive, emotional and social intelligences.

What would happen if, as soon as a speaker directly attacked someone's character, everyone walked out of a room or simply ignored him? If attackers have no audience of those who agree that attack is helpful or appropriate, then that person might have to find another way to express himself.

From childhood, we should all be given tools of conflict resolution. In the beginning, this is how it might go: Describe what you perceived happened and say how that felt to you. The other person repeats that back until you feel he understands. You do the same after he talks about his perceptions. Differences are examined by acknowledging different assumptions and values. For example, an assumption or value might be, "You are different from me and that feels dangerous to me. So you don't have a right to express yourself, and I have a right to hurt you (with my words, pictures or fists) to make you go away."

Maybe if we put all of our conflicts in those terms, at least we would be having the right conversation: It's about values. To what do I feel entitled? What are your rights? How can we live in the same family, society and on the same planet so that dynamic peace is possible? Dynamic peace recognizes that conflicts are inevitable, as is the opportunity to deal with them through methodologies and tools that feature a respect for common human values at their core. Let's begin a global conversation about shared values regarding social media.

"As above, so below," is also a relevant adage here. When we hate ourselves for not meeting our unspoken expectations, we hurt or attack ourselves -- by overeating, drinking, smoking, isolating, etc. We think less of ourselves, then we have to blow up our persona and defenses to cover the fear that we are less than others or that they think ill of us. Patience is then shorter with others who don't meet our expectations.

Instead of going down that road, we might say: "I see I'm not making the ideal choice here. (Or because I didn't make better choices, now I have this consequence.) Still, I'm always loved and I choose to love myself right now, exactly as I am."

Well, peace within begets peace without. We are now a little more likely to be forgiving when someone else isn't meeting our expectations or doing things our way.

In addition to Simon's concrete suggestions, I will add this one that is also part of my upcoming Intuitive Intelligence video series: Treating ourselves with kindness, neutrality and compassion can accelerate our alignment with spirit and our contribution to greater dynamic peace in the world.

Let's start with ourselves, and then have a conversation with others about values and social media .

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